Woman and young girl in living room with flat screen televisionAlcohol Ads and Kids

How many times, while viewing TV (especially sports related programs) do you see alcohol ads played one after another?  Have you ever thought about the impact these ads have upon young kids or teenagers in the room?  Studies show that you should be concerned about the effects upon those under age in the room.  In fact, it has been shown that if children are exposed to ads that feature alcohol, they have a much higher chance of being at-risk for underage drinking. For some kids, this constant influence has been shown to get them drinking as early as seventh grade.  Also, study results show that the more that kids are exposed to alcohol advertising, and the more they enjoy the ads, the higher the chance that they will try alcohol by the time they are in tenth grade.

So, while you may believe these ad to be harmless, consider the following facts: alcohol ads have been shown to be linked with various other alcohol-related problems in later life for those kids, including declining grades and academic performance, passing out from alcohol, booze-fueled fights, and going to school while drunk. Though you can’t always control what kids may be watching, it is critical to talk with them and explain the dangers of alcohol and what it can.  Studies also show that if you do the talking, they’ll be at a lower risk for alcohol abuse.

Mediasmarts.ca, a Canadian website for digital and media literacy, recommends some strategies for talking and discussing alcohol related ads with kids at different stages of development:

“Early years: Current research suggests Grades 3 and 4 are critical years in the formation of expectancies about alcohol, so this is a good time for parents and teachers to start helping children think critically about what they see and to introduce them to the marketing strategies advertisers use to create positive associations with alcoholic beverages.

Middle years: This age group represents a critical period for decision-making about alcohol consumption. Today in Ontario, 66 per cent of students in Grades 7-12 drink, with 25 per cent drinking at least twice a month and 12 percent drinking at least once a week.  Although young teens may lack the life experience to judge mass media messages, with guidance they can develop the critical skills they need to understand: explicit and implicit messaging in ads, the perspective and intentions of programmers and characters, and the impact of production techniques.

Older teens: Studies have shown that once teens start to drink, alcohol ads on TV do not affect their drinking habits.  However, it has been found that wine and alcohol consumption by 18-year-old girls is directly related to television viewing between the ages of 13 and 15, and that young men who are good at remembering beer ads at 15 years of age, tend to be heavy drinkers when they are 18.” (Source: mediasmarts.ca)


This information goes to show that we need to be sensitive to watch kids who are viewing and discuss alcohol ads with them to ensure healthy thinking and awareness.


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